Bone Broth Basics: Make Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker22
With my upcoming challenge to Live Below the Line, I’ll be stretching out my food budget by making bone broth. This isn’t so much a recipe, as it is a basic how-to for making bone broth in a slow cooker – it’s just that easy!
You’ll want to make your own bone broth because it’s nutrient dense and full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, that happen to be in the right ratios to support bone health. It’s also relatively inexpensive to make your own broth, especially if you’re already eating quality sources of meat (e.g. grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chickens or wild fish), because you can just save the leftover bones from your roasts and other meals. You can usually ask your local butcher for inexpensive soup bones as well.
Really, once you’ve tried making your own bone broth, you’ll never bother with stock-cubes and pre-made bouillon mixes again (they can be questionable not only because of the quality of animal bones used, but also because of the high amount of salt and MSG used in the flavoring). Want another reason to make your own broth? Homemade bone broth is also a great source of gelatin, which can help support joints and ease joint-pain.
Baby, You Gotta Stew Bone Broth Going
Arrested Development fans will know that Carl Weathers almost had it right.
In addition to saving your leftover bones, making bone broth is a great way to get more nutrients out of your vegetable scraps (e.g. tough broccoli stalks, carrot tops and peels) and even egg shells. Egg shells are also rich in minerals and the egg membranes have nutrients that are supportive for joint health.
Keep in mind though, that you’ll want to use good quality sources of meat and organic vegetable scraps if possible because you’ll be drawing out and concentrating the nutrients from these scraps.
Don’t Forget the Acid
Add a good glug of apple cider vinegar to your broth – the acidic nature of the vinegar helps to draw minerals out of the bones.
Oh No, My Bone Broth Didn’t Gel
You know you’ve got a good broth going when, after straining and cooling your broth, you have a good layer of fat on the top (you can keep this for cooking and adding flavor to vegetables), and it’s gelatinized. This of course, is a sign that there’s a plenty of gelatin in your broth!
But don’t stress if your bone broth doesn’t gel. It’s still good – chances are there are still plenty of nutrients in it, and it’s still worth drinking.
Here are a few reasons why your bone broth didn’t gel:
- You used too much water, or had too few bones to make your stock
- You didn’t simmer for long enough. Simmer for at least 12 hours, but you could simmer as long as 24 hours.
- The quality of bones wasn’t good enough to gel. For example, conventionally raised chicken bones often don’t gelatinize because they’re raised in cages and don’t have gelatin in their joints and bones.
Now, you should be all set to make your own broth!
- about 2 pounds of good quality bones
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
- sea salt
- egg shells
- vegetable ends
- Place the bones in a 3-quart slow-cooker. You can easily adjust this recipe to the size of your slow-cooker. The bones should fill up about 3/4 of the slow-cooker.
- Peel and cut your vegetables and garlic. If you are using organic produce, you can just roughly chop them. You can also add vegetable scraps and rinsed, crushed egg shells into your slow-cooker. You'll be straining these out before consuming the broth.
- Fill the slow-cooker with filtered water. Season with a generous amount of salt (about 1-1.5 tsp).
- Add 1-2 tablespoons (or one good 'glug') of organic apple cider vinegar.
- Set the slow-cooker on low and cook for 18-24 hours.
- Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a strainer and cool. A good broth will usually have a layer of fat on the top, and will gelatinize when thoroughly cool. The fat can be removed and used for cooking/flavoring vegetables.